Our Definitions of Spirituality & Research

To increase society’s scientific knowledge about the role of religion and spirituality in family life, the Templeton Foundation provided funding for a pioneering study of the transition to parenthood. This web site highlights findings from the 164 couples who participated in our project from the time they were pregnant until their baby was 1 year old. We visited our families in their homes and learned about them using questionnaires, interviews, and videotaped family interactions (marital, mother-infant, father-infant, and mother-father-child interactions).

  • Our major goal was to learn how specific spiritual beliefs and practices centered on family life may impact marriage or parenting, for better or worse. 
    • For better: Examples of helpful spiritual resources include the concepts of sanctification and spirituality intimacy.
      Link to For Better Page.
    • For worse: Examples of harmful spiritual problems include the concepts of spiritual one-upsmanship and spiritual struggles over family issues.
      Link to For Worse Page.
  • Relational Spirituality Framework Project
    Dr. Mahoney also relied on support from the Templeton Foundation for this project to write a comprehensive review of peer-reviewed studies published from 1999-2009 on the role of faith in family life. 
    • This work expanded an earlier review of similar studies from 1980-1999. These two reviews highlight the many fascinating questions still waiting to be answered about family life and spirituality. This web site features exciting new findings from our and other research groups that shed new light on the spiritual dimension of family life.
      See more at Relational Spirituality Framework link